UCAB Approves Pollution Control Mural

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Scazon. Link to photo license.

The UC San Diego University Centers Advisory Board (UCAB) approved the installation of a pollution control mural in Price Center at their meeting last Tuesday.

Uday Govindswamy, a fourth year Environmental Engineering major, teamed up with Greeks Gone Green, a student organization dedicated to enhancing environmental awareness within the Greek community, to propose the project to UCAB. Govindswamy believes that informing the University community about this technology will help increase awareness of the product and hopefully contribute to the betterment of the world’s air quality in the future.

“The mural itself will not drastically improve the air quality around San Diego as a whole, but it will improve the mural’s immediate surroundings,” said Govindswamy. “It also has immense potential to work in developing nations where there are gigantic billboards in highly polluted areas.”

The mural will utilize a technology called PURETi. PURETi comes as an aerosol and paint product that, when applied to various surfaces like walls or roads, uses sunlight and titanium dioxide (TiO2) to break down smog into carbon dioxide (CO2). This, in turn, slowly reduces air pollution, but simultaneously contributes to greenhouse gases. According to a data collection presentation by PURETi, the product is guaranteed to last for up to five years.

In contrast to the data collection presentation, two studies were presented to UCAB that questioned the efficiency of the technology being used. One study, conducted by the Public Interest Energy Research Program, concluded that technology similar to what PURETi relies on is feasible, but may not be cost-effective. The other was conducted by members of the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and concluded that the ability for this material to last for a long period of time could be affected by the deterioration of TiO2 and by failure to properly clean the material.

UCAB approved implementation of the pollution control mural, despite the questions of validity and efficiency. The exact location and design of the mural are also unknown and will be decided by UCAB at a later date.

Gary Le, the UCAB graduate student-at-large, expressed his individual opinion on the mural, stating that the combination of art and STEM is a step in the right direction.

“The interdisciplinary effort would help encourage a blending of humanities and science in culture which falls in line with UCSD’s campaign to break tradition,” said Le. “Even if the scientific benefit is not as impactful as hoped, I believe an art project with the intent to encourage usage of art and design into STEM is a worthwhile pursuit.”

Matthew Rom-Toribio is an Assistant News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him on twitter @MT2o.